Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hello, Old Friend

I can't believe, in all this time, I've never given you my Doritos rant. Well, isn't this your lucky day.

In 1964, the Frito-Lay Company introduced a new line of corn tortilla chips called Doritos. Their first flavor was called Toasted Corn, which is a fancy way of saying Plain. I'm telling you this because I suspect that you, like most people, believe that Nacho Cheese was the first flavor, which is wrong, and is quite frankly stupid. (That's right. I called you stupid. No one's actually reading this, so I intend to let 'er rip.)

Don't believe me? Wikipedia totally backs me up. Don't believe Wikipedia? (Well, I suppose that's fair.) Maybe you'll prefer the in-depth company history found at Funding Universe. Still not satisfied? Well, tough. I'm right about this. I mean, honestly, how could the first chip be the flavored one? It makes no sense at all. It's like saying that Mountain Dew Code Red came first. I mean, come on.

And while we're at it, do not go saying that plain Doritos are called Tostitos. First off, you're an idiot. Second, Tostitos came out in 1979, 15 years after their superior big brother. Third, Tostitos are made with white corn and are flaky and flimsy. They can't compare to the bold taste and stronger structural integrity of the yellow-corn Dorito. And finally, shut up. They're totally different chips and you're wrong, Mr. Wrong Guy.

(Incidentally, whatever you do, do NOT go to the Doritos website in search of any kind of information. It's a cacophonous mess, trying desperately to be hip in a way that recalls the character of Poochie being added to "The Itchy and Scratchy Show" on The Simpsons. Believe it or not, you're actually better off with the amusing entry for Doritos at Conservapedia, which even notes popular criticisms of other Doritos flavors. I'm scared to read their entry on Sarah Palin, but a site that lavishes so much attention on snack food deserves at least one tip of the cap.)

To be fair -- which I really don't have to do, this being MY rarely-updated blog and all -- Frito-Lay brought this confusion upon itself. There is no dispute that Nacho Cheese is by far the most popular flavor, with Cool Ranch a very strong second. Toasted Corn, by comparison, doesn't even rank. Of course, it might do better if Frito-Lay would SELL THE DAMN CHIPS EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI. That's right, the flagship of the line, and you can't get it in half the country. Brilliant.

I love these beautiful chips, and I'm not alone. The blogosphere has several acolytes of the original flavor, and even the prissy experts at America's Test Kitchen rated them best in show. (The results are locked away in this subscriber-only article, but maybe I'll bust out the scanner and copy the page right out of the cookbook, just to prove it.) So the fact that I haven't lived somewhere where you can buy the damn things for almost two decades has really raised my ire on the subject. So much so that I occasionally call up the toll-free number to tell them what I think of their brilliant sales plan.

ME: Why won't you sell me these delicious chips that you make?

FRITO-LAY PERSON: There's not enough demand for it in your area.


Surprisingly, this approach does not work. And so I have been reduced to the occasional shipment of good ol' Plain Doritos from my father, but otherwise forced to relegate them to the Shelf of Beloved Foodstuffs I Can Get No More, alongside Hydrox cookies, Carnation breakfast bars, and the original five flavors of Life Savers.

Or so I thought.

The stunning happy ending to this story began last Tuesday, when I received a late-night text message from a former co-worker who had endured too many of my rants on this ridiculous subject. The message was a photograph of a pair of Toasted Corn Doritos bags sitting on a grocery store shelf.

I assumed he was in Texas.

To my astonishment, he was in a store right here in Chicago, only a few blocks from my home. After persuading him to sample them for himself (his verdict: "...that's a solid motherf****n corn chip"), I made a beeline to the store the very next day to see things for myself.

There they were. I bought two.

I have been gluttonously enjoying my chips ever since, and my confidence got another boost when I found myself in another supermarket here in Chicago and found them again. I'm a little nervous, because they could always go away again. But I'm starting to let down my guard. I think the Snack Lords have finally granted my wish. Toasted Corn Doritos are back, baby. Go buy some and celebrate.

I think I owe that toll free Frito-Lay person a call.


Ryan said...

Here here. I'm a toasted corn convert.

Tom said...

Thank you for your Doritos rant. Somebody had to say it, and you said it WELL. Cool Ranch; faaah.
I went so far as to pay someone on E-Bay something like $13 to send me two bags of Toasted Corn last year!
I live in De Kalb, Illinois. Is there any chance you could reveal the name of the store where you obtained the manna? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't, and in any case, thanks again for saying what I've wanted to say ever since I found out 1) Doritos Toasted Corn existed, and 2) I couldn't go to the store and buy them.